Thursday, May 19, 2011

{review} the spies of warsaw

{Ed. This is last week's blogger disappearing post.}

Alan Furst The Spies of Warsaw (2008)

The Spies of Warsaw: A Novel THE SPIES OF WARSAW

Now this is a very good spy novel - a meaty historical espionage novel, filled with wonderful period details and well-written to boot. 

It is 1937. Colonel Jean-François Mercier is running spies from the French embassy in Warsaw. The French are playing a tricky game, trying to support Poland and undermine the old enemy Germany. What are the German plans for Poland? And - most importantly for the under-prepared and internally divided French  government - what might the Nazi regime be planning for France? 

Mercier embarks on a quest to uncover the extent of the German menace and makes some dangerous enemies in the process. This is a complicated novel, filled with fascinating characters whose motives are almost always ambiguous. In a world where no one is quite what they seem (including his French colleagues), Mercier's dangerous game could cost him his life and imperil his loved ones. 

Mercier is a great hero figure: honest, honorable, handsome and - obviously - heroic. He's the sort of figure who makes the reader long for a sequel. What is particulary interesting for the reader is that one knows that, despite all of Mercier's heroism, France is ultimately doomed. This knowledge sends a shiver up the spine, particularly in the book's deliberately rose-tinted views of a thoughtlessly carefree Paris. The travel scenes in the The Spies of Warsaw make one long for this lost, glamorous 1930s' Europe.

Rating: 8/10.

If you liked this... there are many more Fursts of course and in terms of quality I think that David Downing's Berlin stations series comes pretty close too (Zoo Station is the first in the series). Hmmm, they've all got spookily similar covers.

Zoo Station Spies of the Balkans: A Novel 

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